Power is something human beings constantly seek to do things and to get something done.
When you are powerless you feel helpless. Constantly you have to seek someone else’s help even for trivial things. You become totally dependent.
The first kind of power everyone needs is the power of fitness and good health. Quite often this important power is taken for granted by those who are endowed with it. Only when they are ill or confined to bed for some reason, or lose the function of even a little finger they realise what has been snatched from them. The other day I got the creepy feeling that a tiny ant was trying to enter my right ear. This alarmed me. I had an urge to stop it by using my little finger. The other fingers were too big for the job. But unfortunately I had hurt my little finger badly earlier in the day by jamming it while closing an almirah. It was in a bandage and I was in pain. Hence I used my other little finger and thanked the Almighty for thoughtfully empowering me with two hands!
Power is the strength to do things or to get things done, by not only humans but by things created or exploited by them. When referring to the strength of lifting or moving, we measure it by a strange expression, ‘horse power’.
Humans are called powerful based on their personal influence or the position they occupy in the establishment. Personal power is the result of your own qualities and your past record of making things happen or swaying public opinion.
A typical example is Mahatma Gandhi. He was a Nobody who influenced the humongous population of a huge country to seek independence from a colonial regime. And this was in an era when there was no internet or even an aeroplane that could be used by ordinary human beings. To add to the communication barrier the oppressive regime resorted to strict censorship and routinely opened and read posted letters in the name of intelligence gathering. Gandhi was a bundle of contradictions and yet people trusted him. The frail man’s simple message miraculously reached their heart. His only powerful weapon was self denial. He stayed away from celebration and power when India attained independence and even advised the Congress leaders to wind up the party to make a fresh beginning! That is why we call him the Mahatma.
Self denial is indeed the most important source of personal power. Mao Tse Tung is now a highly criticised person even in China. Yet by himself following self denial and practising austerity, he influenced the Chinese thinking to lay the foundation of what is perhaps the most powerful country within a period of 75 years after independence. Given the huge population of China this is a great achievement indeed.
As opposed to personal power, positional power belongs to the seat of power. Any duly appointed person exercises it by virtue of his/her title. Such power is very temporary. That has unfortunately given rise to dynastic rule in India to perpetuate the rule by a family. This disease has spread to other politicians too. Those who illegitimately occupy the seat know that their days are numbered and often appoint themselves as rulers for life, only to be ousted and assassinated in line with their own declaration!
The nuclear power has been the contribution of the 20th century in the field of power and is seen as an important differentiator in the domain of power play in international politics.
Now to another concept of power. In mathematics there are two digits which are all-powerful. These are 0 and 1. Any number multiplied by 0 becomes zero. Zero has huge positional power when placed after any number. The value of the number gets multiplied 10 times every time you place a 0 after it. Any number raised to the ‘power’ of zero gets reduced to just 1. Any number divided by 0 rises to infinity. Likewise 1 represents uniqueness literally and figuratively. Multiplication value of 1 is zero! Any number raised to the power of 1 or divided by 1 remains unchanged. Zero and One have revolutionised human thinking and behaviour totally and irreversibly through the technique of binary arithmetic.
We cannot think of life without computers, cell phones or software industry. At the root of all this digital revolution are Zero and 1. Millions of jobs and livelihoods would have been impossible without the digital revolution! Such is the nature of power wielded by just Nothing and 1.
The latest developments in AI and ML covering learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, speech and facial recognition, annotation, language understanding autonomous decision making and execution has the potential to reduce the status of human beings to nothing are the founded on the 2 deadly digits. Remember that we are still only in the first generation of AI. Two more generations are still in the making and may take 2 decades more). By contrast every other power looks tiny and insignificant.
This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Ramana. The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini.
Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.